Courtesy CBS/The Recording Academy/AEG Ehrlich Ventures
(LOS ANGELES) — Sunday night at 8 p.m., CBS airs Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration, saluting six decades of the iconic record label. It features performances and appearances by current acts like John Legend, Meghan Trainor, Jennifer Lopez, Fantasia, Boyz II Men and Pentatonix, and Motown legends like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Thelma Houston and Smokey Robinson. But Smokey believes Motown music will continue to endure, far beyond these first 60 years.
“There are kids who haven’t even been born who are gonna hear it,” he notes. “So it’s a beautiful thing.”
The show’s executive producer Ken Ehrlich says his goal was to give a “21st century interpretation of some of the great moments of Motown.”
“We were fortunate in having Stevie and Smokey and Diana and Thelma Houston and a few of the other artists that date back to the really amazing early days of Motown,” he tells ABC Radio. “And then, John Legend does a pretty amazing Marvin Gaye, and Ciara did a medley of more current Motown hits, and Ne-Yo the same way. So we were able to kinda bring yesterday and today together.”
Show highlights include a “Women of Motown” tribute featuring Meghan Trainor, Tori Kelly and Fantasia performing with Thelma Houston, and an “In Memoriam” segment with Stevie Wonder singing “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer.”
“It’s about people that have left us,” Ehrlich says of the song. “It’s pretty emotional and pretty evocative. Stevie got very emotional and you can see that in the performance. He does some other stuff that’s up[tempo]…but this song just had something special.”
Enjoying the show from the audience: Motown’s 89-year-old founder, Berry Gordy.
“He was just having a ball, he loved it,” says Ehrlich. “We really appreciated his lending us the Motown legacy for a night.”
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